Probation Service defends handling of murderer Mark Shirley's case
A JUDGE has told murderer and rapist Mark Shirley he should never be released from jail after being convicted of a third horrific attack on a woman.
The 42-year-old was given 16 life sentences when a jury unanimously found him guilty of multiple rape and sexual assault charges.
After the sentencing another woman raped by Shirley said he had told her during the attack that there were other victims – and the Probation Service admitted it had not done enough to stop Shirley harming further people after his release from prison from a life sentence for murder, although it insisted it had handled his case correctly.
Helen Stockford, of Southmead, said mistakes had been made with the handling of Shirley after his release and she believed strong lessons needed to be learnt.
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Mrs Stockford, 40, who was attacked by Shirley in 2009, said: "I believe the justice system in this country needs a complete overhaul, particularly with respect to victims of rape, and that is what I have been campaigning for, for three long years."
She said she wanted to meet Prime Minister David Cameron and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to urge changes in the system.
Sentencing Shirley to a minimum of 16 years in jail yesterday, trial judge the Honourable Mr Justice Astill said: "You must appreciate that the nature of these offences and your previous offences for murder and rape, may well result, and probably should result, in you remaining in custody for the remainder of your life."
"You subjected [the victim] to a series of violent and sadistic sexual assaults over 12 hours or more, having broken into her home, knowing that she would be alone. Your violent threats and sexual depravity reduced her to such a state of terror that the prospect of you returning to kill her, in accordance with your threat to kill her, meant that for many years she was unable to disclose her suffering at your hands to anyone."
The judge said Shirley had destroyed the life of a once intelligent and capable young woman.
He said: "She has paid the price for your perverted pleasure, which is hardly to be imagined by balanced and reasonable minds."
Shirley had denied four charges of rape, 12 serious sexual assaults and wounding.
Bristol Crown Court heard he subjected the 32-year-old woman to a "brutal and prolonged" sexual humiliation in which she was tied up and repeatedly raped in her Bristol home in December 2005.
He had met her three weeks before the attack at the Pitcher and Piano pub on Bristol's Harbourside, where she had let slip her address and a time when she would be at home alone.
Shirley burst into her home wearing a balaclava and violently attacked her before throwing her on a bed and subjecting her to a sexual ordeal lasting at least 12 hours, during which he threatened to cut off pieces of her body.
As the attack unfolded he pushed her back onto her bed, pulled her hair and told her: "I'm gonna make you scream … and you're gonna love it," a jury was told.
Shirley, aged 42, was living in Lockleaze at the time.
His victim did not come forward until last year, having suffered post traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of the attack.
Shirley had been released from prison on licence two years before the 2005 attack, having been jailed in 1987, aged 17, for the murder of Cardiff pensioner Mary Wainwright, who appeared to have been sexually assaulted before her death.
He had been recalled to prison in 2004 and 2007, over his use of alcohol.
After the sentence and criticism from Mrs Stockford, Avon & Somerset Probation Trust issued a statement which said: "Avon & Somerset Probation Trust managed this case correctly but unfortunately it is never possible to fully eliminate risk where an offender is intent on causing harm.
"The person solely responsible for these horrendous crimes is Kenneth Mark Shirley.
"Mark Shirley's release from prison was directed by the Parole Board following a recall, concerning his alcohol use, instigated by the Probation Service. The Avon and Somerset Probation Trust provided all available information to the Parole Board. All the powers available to Probation in the management of this offender were used to work with him in order to support him changing his behaviour and becoming a law abiding member of society.
"Unfortunately it is clear that Mark Shirley was intent on harming further victims once released from prison.
"A full and through investigation has been carried out into the management of Mark Shirley by the Probation Trust and it was found that the management of this case was of a good standard and that the appropriate action was taken and followed by the offender manager."
David Thomas, assistant chief officer and head of public protection for Avon & Somerset Probation Trust, said: "It is the job of probation to ensure that offenders do what the Court and Parole Board has ordered of them. This period of supervision on licence did not indicate any increase in his level of risk and he presented as fully cooperative.
"All reports gave no cause for concern, until his use of alcohol became an issue and at this point probation instigated his recall to prison.
"A review of this case found that: There is no suggestion that the Probation Service could have done anything to prevent this man committing this serious further offence.
"The Probation Trust delivers an important statutory service to victims and we will look to support and work with the victim in the future."
During the trial, the prosecution highlighted obvious similarities between Shirley's previous murder and rape convictions and the attack in 2005, such as use of a blade and fascination for blood, which put them "beyond the realms of coincidence".
William Mousley QC, prosecuting, said that on several occasions during the 2005 attack Shirley referred to the victim as Jan Mary, and on one occasion while in her kitchen, he sang the nursery rhyme 'Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary'.
The jury heard that, after the ordeal , the woman washed herself thoroughly, cleaned the house and bedding and was convinced if she told police Mark would come back and kill her or anyone else there.
During Shirley's attack on Helen Stockford, he also frequently referred to the name Mary.
Both were apparent references to his first victim, Mary Wainwright.
Shirley was arrested in July 2011 and denied the allegations relating to the 2005 attack, but the complainant picked him out on an identity parade. He maintained his innocence, but declined to give evidence in his defence.
In a graphic account of her ordeal, Shirley's victim said: "He was so angry. His face was so angry. It was almost like he was more of an animal than a person."